Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles review written by Lauren.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
It’s hard to have first impressions when you already “platinum-ed” the game on PS4, but I can tell you that the first view we get when emerging from the cave feels like coming home. This game is really suited for the Switch – it’s a nice, relaxing game that is equally fun to play on handheld mode as it is to play on the big screen. The colors and design are an absolute delight without being overwhelming. I find myself regularly stopping to admire the scenery, no matter what season or time of day. If you crossed Stardew Valley with a non-combat “lite” version of Breath of the Wild, you might get something like Yonder.
You play as a young guy or girl that you can customize with various clothing and accessories throughout the game though you initially only get basic customizations like hair and body type. You are traveling to an un-mapped island (though no one explains truly why you you wanted to go there in the first place) but you get caught in a storm which shipwrecks you conveniently on the island that you were traveling to anyway – the island of Gemea.
As you awaken, you can tell something bad has happened here – but it’s not clear what. A giant fairy-thing explains to you that your job is to clear the murk that has infested Gemea and return the kingdom to its former glory. She presents you with a celestial compass and a sprite to guide you. You unlock more sprites by exploring the world and assisting villages with their dilemmas and tasks.
As you explore the island and its history, you can build farms, collect resources, tame animals, join guilds to acquire the necessary skills to rebuild the Cloud Catcher and rid Gemea of all the murk for good!
There is no combat in this game. No real danger. Even when you drown, you are just revived at the nearest shore (you can’t swim). When you jump from high places like mountain tops (and I encourage you to try this), you will automatically deploy your rainbow parasol and glide lazily to the ground.
There are no concerns with controls, though I wish there was an option to key map certain tools that you use most often, instead of scrolling through the list. Or at least, let you reposition them in the order you want. I appreciate that none of my tools need to be purchased (they can all be granted through quests) nor do they need to be replaced or repaired. Additionally, I should probably clarify that this game doesn’t truly let you purchase anything – every merchant works on a barter system. You trade resources or crafted items of the same value for the goods that you want.
Resources are practically infinite – if you can’t find it on the ground, you can likely build, harvest or adopt an animal to produce it for you. Once you build a shelter for the animal on a nearby farm, you can lure an animal to you with an offering of its favorite food. Talking to a girl with pink hair (who travels faster than the speed of light) named Kari can sometimes give you hints on what each animal likes. I will give you a hint: not all animals want to eat grass; some have a more refined “Canadian” palate.
The game relies heavily on seasonal and time-specific actions. For example, certain quest items, animals and special events are only available at certain times of the year or day. A recent update to the game added trick or treating in the Fall at a certain small town. It was worth playing through 3 other seasons just to experience it and trade in my candy for limited edition accessories.
The Switch edition of the game released, thankfully, with all the updates and patches included. When the game was initially released for PS4, there was no fast travel option and you had to unlock all the sage stones to get anywhere quickly. That being said, the map isn’t exactly large (remember, BOTW “lite”) but unless you like getting distracted by side quests (I actually do) don’t expect to get from one side of the map to the other in one full day cycle without the sage stones or special weather-specific secret passages.
On that note, while you are wandering around, there isn’t a lot of variety to the music so it can get obviously quite repetitive and annoying for some people. I didn’t mind it… I found myself humming along with it.
If I was to make one real complaint about this game, it would be related to the map. There isn’t a proper indication of elevation on the map, which makes navigating terrain a little more difficult. The game isn’t complicated by any stretch of the imagination, but I have heard this from a few people who have played it, so I thought it was important to point out.
Otherwise, this is a beautiful game that keeps me entertained for hours at a time. It doesn’t matter how much I play, I will always have a reason to go back. If you are looking for an uncomplicated, sweet, relaxing and colorful adventure, then this is the title for you!Score: 9 / 10
They also take criticism very seriously – just check out the troll island. 🙂
Now, if someone could please tell me what this giant blue jellyfish is all about, that would be great!